Excitement, smiles mark first school day

13 years ago

ImageHoulton Pioneer Times Photo/Elna Seabrooks
CLASSMATES — Teacher Tara Austin inspects the photos of her first-grade class with Sydney Harvey, center, and Kollin Irish, both 6 years old.

By Elna Seabrooks
Staff Writer

    HOULTON — The first day of school for children in Houlton was filled with smiles and excitement as they entered their classrooms and met with teachers last Wednesday morning.
    “The first day is when the children wear their new sneakers and their new backpacks. They come in skipping down the halls, pulling on their parents hands in their haste to get to their classrooms and meet their teachers,” said Candy Crane, principal of Houlton Elementary School.
    For Lily Murphy, 6, returning to school to enter first grade was “good.” Kindergarten student Jeremy Anderson, 6, said he enjoyed drawing during the orientation when he met his new teacher. And, Asher Calaman, 6, gave a ‘yes’ nod when asked if he was looking forward to going back to school. A moment later, in a soft voice, he said he liked to draw and “play outside on the playground.” His father, Houlton Police Officer Kristin Calaman, said the next day his son had homework.
    Although it was the first day for students at both Houlton Elementary and at Southside School, teachers,  staff and administrators had been busy for about two weeks getting ready.
ImageHoulton Pioneer Times Photo/Elna Seabrooks
A WINNER —As part of the first-week activities, Southside School Principal Jason E. Tarr supervised random drawings for door prizes. Rhetta Vega was among the lucky students who received a tote bag which she showed off to her mother Jen Vega, a teacher at the school. At left is Margaret Hill, school secretary.

    Susan Wilmot, the school secretary, said it had been hectic making sure the 400-plus students were in the various data bases for bus routes, meals and other required information. “A lot of the children come in and don’t remember their classroom teacher or where to go. And, some have a few jitters,” Wilmot explained.
    SAD 29 Bus Supervisor Ted Peterson conferred with Wilmot and teachers on bus runs for each grade. “It’s very important to load them on the right bus and get them to the right home,” said Peterson as he reviewed lists that go to teachers and substitutes.
ImageHoulton Pioneer Times Photo/Elna Seabrooks
BUS ROUTES — Ted Peterson, SAD 29 bus supervisor, reviews student lists with Tara Austin, first-grade teacher, and Susan Wilmot, school secretary.

    One thing very helpful to the new students is a storyboard posted near each classroom door with names and photos of each student in that class. “It helps the new first-graders remember their classroom and who their classmates are,” said Tara Austin who has spent 30 of her 34 years as a first-grade teacher in Houlton at the elementary school. This year, she said, students and teachers can look forward to a new math program as well as “lots of reading, writing, gym, music, library and work on computers as well as fun on the playground.”
    All of that sounded good to two 6-year-olds — Sydney Harvey and Kollin Irish — both of Houlton. They pointed out their own photos on the storyboard and noticed that one student’s photo was missing. Irish said he wants to be a police officer when he grows up while Harvey said she wants to work where her mother works — at Walmart.
ImageHoulton Pioneer Times Photo/Elna Seabrooks
RIGHT THIS WAY — Houlton Police Officer Kristin Calaman escorts his son Asher, 5, to orientation for kindergarten.

    At Southside School, Margaret Hill, Southside School secretary, said “everything ran quite smoothly and it was very exciting to have the new kids come in and see their faces when they enter the building with a new set of teachers and friends.” She also said there were no tears, mostly joy. Southside has 283 children enrolled in grades 4-6.
    Principal Jason E. Tarr explained that students can look forward to a new math program and “a huge technology component” that will allow them to access lessons, assignments and quizzes from home or school. The school is also bringing in new literacy initiatives this year.
ImageHoulton Pioneer Times Photo/Elna Seabrooks
ORIENTATION DAY — Jeremy Anderson, 6, shows his mother a drawing he completed during orientation for kindergarten.